Easter Vigil

Tonight we celebrate the most glorious event in the history of mankind, the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Alleluia!

In the midst of darkness, we lit the New Fire, the very Light of Christ. We heard the Exultet, singing the praises of Mother Church and the Holy Flame.

This past Holy Week we have remembered and celebrated the final events in the life of our Savior.

On Maundy Thursday we recalled the last supper, when Jesus instituted the sacrament of his Body and Blood of the New Covenant.

We recalled the Mandate, to “love one another, as I have loved you,” said our Lord Jesus. We recalled how he washed the feet of his disciples to show them that whomever wished to be the Master must become the Servant of all.

And lastly, we recalled now he withdrew to the Garden of Gethsemene, to that lonely place, to pray. After we celebrated the Holy Communion, the Deacon carried the reserved sacrament to what we call the Altar of Repose, that symbolizes the lonely place of prayer. Jesus said, “Stay here and keep awake, and watch with me.”

On Good Friday we recalled the blessed passion and precious death of our Lord. Do you remember where those words came from?
The blessed passion and precious death? Why were they left out of the modern English version of our Eucharistic Canon? Perhaps it was too difficult for the writers of our newer prayer book to reconcile. How could passion be blessed, and death be precious? That is something to think about.

Why did our Lord have to die anyway? Why do we even recall these images of pain and suffering? We don’t we all give up this nonsense and go attend a church that has great contemporary worship music and an uplifting message by the senior pastor every single Sunday?

These are the traditions that have been passed down to us by generations of believers. We do them so we never forget with Jesus did for us.

What is happening to the sacred traditions of our church? Are they still relevant in a culture that has changed so profoundly in the last fifty years? The sixties and seventies were a tumultuous time, when many of the standards and morality of the previous generations were challenged, and mostly discarded.

Today, if ones behavior is frowned upon by leaders of the Church, then rather than change, many people try to change the meaning of Holy Scripture to suit themselves. What used to be considered sinful, is now acceptable, because the culture has changed. The Church is not supposed to change. We have an ancient faith that we continue to guard with our lives.

There are those who think the Church is outdated and needs to change to survive. They will write books telling us that we were wrong all along, that the Lord really does approve of behavior that we have always called sinful.

But the Church does not need to change to survive. It’s all this progressive theology that is trying to make it modern that is really tearing it down.

The social revolution continues to roll on, smashing everything in its path. The last twenty years have seen an acceleration of this tide, since the advent of that great repository of the world’s knowledge has taken us by storm. Now anyone can be a subject matter expert just by Tweeting. The number of followers on Twitter and Instagram is more important that academic credentials in most modern social circles. The real experts are the Googles and the Yay-hoo’s of the world.

Is the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ still relevant in an internet culture? I would say that it is, and even more so in the midst of the most self-absorbed Selfie culture of our day and age. Despite all of the fascinating Entertainment News of the Celebrities of Society, there is still much suffering in the world. They are more concerned with likes and followers.

How can it be All About Me when they need so much help? How can I dance through life enjoying myself so freely when people are suffering so much pain and death at the hands of religious extremists? Most people ask themselves, Well, what can I do about it?

Our Lord Jesus would ask us, “What are you going to do about it?” The question came up on Maundy Thursday night, when he said to his disciples, “Stay here, and keep awake, and watch with me.” We keep the traditions of the Church alive to remind the world that Jesus wept; that Jesus experienced every emotion that we do; that He actually suffered.

He was very sad and deeply grieved when he returned to his disciples, and found them sleeping, “Are you so utterly unable to stay awake and watch with me for one hour?” Will he find us asleep as well?

Jesus identifies with the suffering of this world, and we are here to remind them of that fact. And we must remind them that he died.

We must remind them that he suffered the shameful and painful death on a cross because he loves them, and us and that he rose again from the dead We must remind them that we pray for them, that they might come to know the power of his death, and his resurrection.

Our annual celebrations are here to remind them that death is not the end. Death has been defeated. We have the promise of eternal life and peace and joy because we believe, and in gratitude for that, our duty is to help them believe, too.

Are you a believer? Have you given your life to Jesus? Is he your Lord and Savior? If so, what are you doing to deepen your faith? Some of you read your Bibles at home. Some of you pray at home or wherever you are when the need arises. Some of you practice a discipline of regular prayer.
If not, I would recommend you start with Morning Prayer. It’s in our Book of Common Prayer. Do you have one at home? We have a few extras here if you need one.

If you have never prayed for God to come into your life, to really take control of your life, then I urge you to do so. Christ wants to be resurrected in your life as well as in this Church. Will you let him?

Alleluia! Christ is Risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

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4th Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has been elected! Read more on the election HERE.

St. Michaels Conference Southwest June 16-22. Information and registration can be found HERE.

Bishop Iker Golf Challenge June 7. Information and registration can be found HERE.

 

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